The World Premiere
CCCAG February 25th, 2018
Scripture- John 2:1-11
Everyone here probably has a few television programs they watch other than news. Some people like drama’s, some like comedy’s, others are into reality TV.
What all of these shows have in common is this- at some point, they started out as a pilot.
A pilot is a single episode of a future TV series that is produced to show the studio executives what this show will look like and to get approval to make more.
I love medical dramas, particularly if they involve fire and rescue. A few years ago there was a show called “Trauma” and I set my DVR to watch the pilot. The show starts out showing a roof top rescue with a medical helicopter coming into transport the patient. After getting the patient on board, the helicopter just jerks into the air and immediately goes down off the rooftop. That’s a huge violation of helicopter EMS flight rules- if you are taking off from anywhere, you lift straight up, turn your aircraft 360 degrees to check for other aircraft or obstructions, and then turn and head to where you are going. If you are interested in seeing that, the next time you hear a helicopter overhead- park across from the fire station and you can watch it happen.
Needless to say, the helicopter in this TV show goes straight down and collides with a tourist helicopter sending both to the ground. I’m already thinking- they didn’t spring for an expert advisor to tell them that should never happen. The scene then shifted to a female paramedic having inappropriate contact with her partner in the ambulance, and I just knew this show would stink, and it was canceled after 5 episodes after receiving so many negative emails from professional firefighters and paramedic that they pulled it off the air.
I bring all of this up to give us a common frame of reference to make this point- How something starts, whether it be a TV show, political movement, popular cause, or even a religion- how it startsz sets the stage for the whole life of that thing.
In John Chapter 2, we are witnessing the world premiere of Jesus’ public ministry, beginning with His first miracle. Jesus is setting the stage for what His ministry and mission are all about.
He has called his first 5 disciples, and is now attending a wedding in Cana, about 9 miles from his hometown of Nazareth.
That’s where we pick up the Gospel of John today: John 2:1-11
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
There are several things that Jesus’ first miracle shows us about what His ministry is going to be about.
Keep that in mind, because first I have to deal with a question this may bring up in many people’s minds. This story in John 2 is not a very popular one amongst those who believe that drinking alcohol is a sin.
Honestly, I wanted to ignore that part of it and just get to the main part of the lesson, but it would not be honest to do so without addressing the subject of alcohol. I have to bring the whole counsel of God, and not just the parts that make me comfortable, so let’s jump into the subject of alcohol briefly, and please hear me out. If you have questions or concerns about it, please see me after the service.
In John chapter 2, as well as other NT scriptures that deal with the subject of wine, our fellowship and many other charismatic church’s they want to say that Jesus turned water into grape juice and not alcoholic wine. To get that conclusion they do all kinds of backflips with the Greek language to try and prove it. The Assemblies got their start in 1917 during the height of the temperance movement. The temperance movement was against any use of alcohol for any reason, and that movement is what got prohibition to become the law of the land. Prohibition was a constitutional amendment that made alcohol illegal for 13 years before it was overturned.
Since it’s inception, the Assemblies have prohibited the consumption of alcohol by it’s ministers and any of it’s lay leadership in the church and strongly discouraged it’s use among it’s members. Recently, there have been several attempts to relax this prohibition within our fellowship to change the prohibition against alcohol. However, at our last General Council the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs were again added to the list of practices disapproved by our leadership.
That’s what our official stance regarding alcohol is, and as an assembly of God pastor, it is what I am to teach.
I’m going to make a logical argument here
You would have to completely cut this miracle out of the bible to believe the bible forbids any consumption of alcohol, particularly wine for social purposes or even for enjoyment.
What the bible does say is that wine or alcohol is to be treated as anything else in life- with an eye toward pleasing God in all things. For many people that means you should never drink alcohol- God has called you to live apart from the consumption of alcohol. You will do well to listen to your conscience and more importantly the Holy Spirit in this circumstance. However, others will see it as a liberty they enjoy and if they do so responsibly and avoid overconsumption or drunkenness, they are not sinning.
If you don’t drink now, don’t start and don’t look down on those who do.
If you do drink now, do so responsibly and remember not to offend your brothers and sisters who might have a conviction about drinking.
A scriptural guideline from the church in the New Testament that had problems with this idea of personal freedom versus legalism-
1 Cor 8-Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
In other words, if you are a person that has no problem with social drinking, you have the scriptural right to do so. What you do not have permission to do is do it in front of others that have a problem with it.
For example- if you invite a known alcoholic to dinner and give him/her a beer or glass of wine- you are sinning. Likewise, if you know that this person has a strong conviction against the consumption of alcohol and you do the same thing- you are sinning.
The same thing applies to those who have a heart felt conviction that alcohol is evil- you should not think more highly of yourself because you know a brother or sister that has a beer or glass of wine. Rejoice in their freedom, but stay true to your own conscience.
One final scripture from Corinthian’s before we return to our regularly scheduled programming-
"I have the right to do anything," you say--but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"--but I will not be mastered by anything.
Treat alcohol like a loaded gun. If I use it correctly, I can take a loaded gun into the woods and bring food home to my family. The act of hunting brings me joy and like anything else God has blessed us with in life it’s how you use it that matters to God. IF you misuse a loaded firearm, it causes death or severe disability to you or those around you.
Again, if you have questions or concerns about this or what I said today, please see me after service
Now, back to the subject at hand- The premiere of Jesus’ ministry.
In Jesus’ day- the 1st century AD, weddings were huge. It wasn’t just a Saturday thing- show up for an hour, then a few hours at a reception and you are all done. Weddings in Jesus’ day lasted a week. The favorite day to get married was either Sunday or Monday so that they could celebrate the entire week before their Sabbath on Saturday. In their culture, the grooms family paid for the whole thing. How big and how well the guests at the wedding were treated reflected on the grooms social standing and his ability to support his new bride. Since these people were staying with the new bride and groom for several days, weddings were very expensive, and the guest list carefully managed to avoid bankrupting the new couple.
That’s the first thing I want to bring up-
I. Jesus was invited to this wedding
I bring this up because sometimes in our desire to live holy, we lose the opportunities to be salt and light.
I once had a guy that became my partner on the ambulance who was a pretty strong Christian. This was early in my Christian life, and I had just heard the call to enter into the ministry. The church we attended at the time preached an almost radical separation from the world, so I was known as a holy roller. In fact, when working with my new partner we were known as the God Squad.
One of our dispatchers always said that on the radio. Instead of using our unit number- 5448, she would say, “Dispatch to God Squad, respond with Lake Geneva Fire department for a person who needs salvation at (address)”
As funny as that was, it came with a price- both of us were completely unrelatable to anyone we worked with. No one knew how to talk to us, no one invited us to their parties, even if it was for a kids graduation, and we were excluded from almost all the social invites with our coworkers.
That wasn’t the case with Jesus.
Jesus- the holiest man who ever lived got invited to all the parties.
Sinners invited him
Tax collectors invited him
Pharisee’s invited him
Jesus was number 1 on everyone’s must have guest list.
How can the holiest man that ever lived get invited to parties with people who lived extremely sinful lives?
Because your sense of personal holiness should always be tempered with humility and love. Holiness without love is sinful pride and legalism.
Jesus loved people first. Let me say that again- Jesus, our God, our Savior, and our Example LOVED people first.
It doesn’t matter where they were, what they were involved with, or how they were living their lives. Jesus’ love was so contagious that everyone wanted him around, even if they were in the midst of sinning.
I think we can get so wound up in a selfish pursuit of external holiness that we forget that the first fruit of the Holy Spirit is not separational holiness, but love.
Love isn’t love if it has no desire to be shared with others. Caution- I don’t want you to think I’m saying go to where there is rampant sin and join in, I just encourage you to think twice about how you present yourself to the world, because how you present yourself reflects on the Savior you say you follow.
II. Jesus’ 1st miracle foreshadowed his entire ministry
Mary comes to Jesus with a problem- they are out of wine. This would have been hugely embarrassing to the groom.
To put this into perspective- We all live in a small town- how long do people remember mistakes you have made? Forever, right?
An example from my own life-
I scraped the diamond plate on the fire engine right after I started on the fire department backing it into the station. Wasn’t wearing my glasses and my depth perception was a little off. Any time I walk anywhere near the drivers seat the assistant chief starts talking smack- “Get the tools, Oscar is driving! Is our insurance up to date? Look out, crash is driving!” I heard all of that last Tuesday when we were training. It’s just guys being hard on other guys and I’m not offended by it.
Multiply that x10, and that is what this young couple are facing by running out of the wine that people drank to celebrate their marriage.
Jesus’ answer to his mother seems a bit harsh when translated into modern English. If I walk up to a female here and start by saying, “Woman” that would be confrontational, and some would say a sexist way of referring to you.
However, Jesus isn’t disrespecting her- His formality is an indication of extreme respect being shown to his mother and the problem she is bringing to Him.
A modern way of Jesus speaking is this- “Ma’am, why are you involving me in this? My purpose is not to become Galilee’s chief wine distributor”
Now Mary up to this point had been treasuring a great deal of things in her heart. She had seen and heard a lot about who her son was supposed to be-
Elizabeth’s words when John the Baptizer did the jig inside her womb when pregnant Mary came in the room,
Jesus when he was 12 teaching at the temple saying, “I have to be about my Father’s business”
I like to visualize what is going on in the bible’s texts, and I just know that All of this was in her mind and I can see her smile, pat his cheek, and say “You’re such a good boy” and tell the servants to do as Jesus told them to do. No son can refuse mom right?
So Jesus agrees to meet this need of a young couple.
That’s the first lesson of the first miracle-
I think sometimes we limit God to the big things and forget He wants to hear about the headaches, the colds, the sniffles, and that jerk who cut you off in traffic.
But I also want to point out that there is a ton of symbolism that points to the purpose of Jesus’ first miracle-
Let’s look at some of that as we look at
III. The significance of this miracle pointing to Jesus whole ministry. It is seen in the specific items mentioned in the story.
A. Stone jars-
The law was written onto tablets of stone. The whole existence of these jars containing water was to be show they were obedient to the law of Moses. The water was a sign to the Jews that they needed God’s cleansing in their lives, and served as a constant reminder to them of the rigid requirements they had to live by to be pleasing to God under the OT system.
But then Jesus came. Jesus is the living stone, the cleanser, and the mediator that has come to fulfill the law so we don’t have to trust in our effort to win God’s approval.
Hebrews 8:6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.
Jesus standing there is saying I AM the cleansing, I am the purifying, I AM the one who makes you whole. You don’t have to be empty with a heart of stone- I will fill you and give you a heart of flesh if you just trust in me and follow me I will lead you into eternal life.
The second item we want to look at is the
Wine’s uses and symbolism is seen in many ways.
Wine was a staple in every Jewish household. In fact, they often drank more wine then water as it kept longer and reliable and safe water sources were sometimes hard to come by in summer months. Wine was so much a part of Jewish life that it was a common saying that “Without wine, there is no joy.”
Wine was used medicinally-Wine was Paul’s prescription for Timothy to deal with his anxiety and stomach issues
We see here that wine was used at wedding feasts- In Jewish Weddings the blessing is pronounced as sips of wine are given to the bride and groom as each of the 7 blessings are pronounced. At the end of the ceremony, the groom smashes the glass indicating that the two lives they lived are now finished, and the new life as one together has begun.
Wine will be used at the wedding supper of the lamb- something that all believers will participate in immediately after the rapture.
Finally, Jesus was drinking wine at the last supper- remember- this was a holy moment as they celebrated Passover. The law demanded that the best was used to honor God, and therefore the wine used in this observance would have been of the highest quality and blessed by a Rabbi.
The wine’s symbolism is this- The Holy Spirit is our new wine. People often drink wine or other alcohol to excess to have a sense of peace, relaxation, or joy. That is a counterfeit to what God wants to give us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In HIM there is fullness of joy, and never a hangover.
Finally the color of wine represents the blood that was shed for your sins and mine. Jesus said he will not drink of the fruit of the vine until all is fulfilled in the eternal Kingdom of God.
What a day that will be!
Finally, I want you look at the amounts of wine being talked about-
C. 180 gallons.
That’s how much wine Jesus potentially made. 180 gallons of the best wine ever!
Now there is no way even a Wisconsin based wedding could go through that much wine. What Jesus did is through this miracle is show-
He is provider- he met the immediate need of the day. Jesus wants to be your provider, and no need you have is too insignificant for him to handle.
However, Jesus’ provision lasted longer than just that moment-
Say they drank maybe a quarter of what Jesus made. Think of how much they could have sold 135 gallons of the best wine for.
I researched this- we aren’t talking about wine you can buy at the grocery store- remember, a professional wedding planner said this was the best wine EVER.
The best wine can sells between $250,000 upwards of half a million dollars per bottle. Wine traditionally comes in bottle containing 750 ML, which is about 1/5 a gallon. Lets use the low number-
So you will need 5 of these bottles to make a gallon. That’s 675 bottles.
169 Million dollars. In 21st century money. With 2000 years of inflation- In Jesus time, that was more money then was probably even in existence.
Do you get the picture of the immense gift Jesus gave this couple?
Jesus didn’t provide for just a moment- Jesus provided a source of income for this couple that would last forever.
Such are all of the gifts that our LORD gives.
Do you get the symbolism to us? Do you now see the incredible meaning behind Jesus changing the water into wine, and why He chose that as His first public miracle?
Because if Jesus could do this with a common substance like wine, think about what HE also did for our salvation- it is locked up and secure in HIM.
Communion- recognizing the gift that Jesus gave us through the sharing of communion.